Workout day interview with Joe Maddon

Workout day interview with Joe Maddon

Joe Maddon participated in an interview on the off-day prior to Game 3 of the Division Series.

Q. Socio, got a split, 1 1. You are in playoff mode the last month or so. I guess do you think that this, having taken a loss since you have been in playoff mode, it is kind of less painful in the sense that you are in playoff mode and this is only one loss out of 20 and you've known how to handle this because you have handled this a month, you know, a month running.

Joe Maddon: I didn't expect us to run the table. You know, we were playing Texas. They're a very good ballclub. They have been hot themselves. So for me, I just like the fact we're playing good baseball, even though we lost yesterday we played well. We had one bad inning with James, the balls in the dirt, a couple hit batters.

Otherwise, I thought our at bats have gotten a lot better. We're still playing our great defense. So it's kind of unrealistic to think that you're just going to run the table.

But, as you suggested, our guys over the course of the last couple of weeks understand adversity pretty well, and I don't think this is really going to bother us too much.

Q. Joe, you answered a lot of questions about what it is like for your team to play in front of non sellouts and now you are at the point where you are sellouts. How big of an advantage do you have, also given fact we have an NFL Monday night game that is sold out? How big of a thing for the area?

Joe Maddon: It is a huge Tampa Bay area day. For us personally we love playing in front of big crowds. The people in Texas, that was fantastic. The crowd they had there, the enthusiasm, the white towel. I don't understand how anybody shoots free throws. You see that stuff. How does that ever happen that you have the concentration ability to make a free throw with that stuff right behind the basket.

For us, we are very excited about it, and I am sure for the Bucks, too. I am happy for Raheem and the boys, also.

But we like this. We like when the place is packed. It's -- it should be a home court advantage, because it is loud in there. It is to the point where Davey and I have to scream to one another and we are standing next to each other at the same time.

But it's great. It's fun. And I really believe the people in our area are enjoying it and shall continue to enjoy it.

Q. Joe, given how clutch David was for you at the start of his career, how many big starts he had in the regular season last year, how do you react to kind of a growing sentiment that starting in the DS last year and spilling into this year, maybe he isn't rising to the occasion?

Joe Maddon: You know, I always believe David will rise to the occasion. I know he has had a couple of tough starts, but this guy's truly got one of the best make ups I have ever been around for a young player. Like I said, I think I mentioned it the other day, I'd just like to see him game plan a little bit differently going into in this one.

But stuff wise, make up wise, I always love the fact that David Price is pitching for us, and I mean that very sincerely.

Q. The game plan with respect to the secondary stuff?

Joe Maddon: Right. I think I talked about the toys in the toy box kind of thing, and I think he's gotten away from doing some things on occasion that make him really good. And we'll just talk about it, and I know I have already put it in Hick's ear. We do a really good job with their information gathering and that kind of stuff. We will present a nice package for him and will work it from there.

Q. Joe, with the roll that Evan has been on the last month or so, and obviously continuing even more so the last few days, is it just a question of him being healthy now, or is there something more to it?

Joe Maddon: Yeah, I believe, for those that weren't around, the beginning of the year he hurt his intercostal area, and that really set him back. His mechanics really got messed up. His hitting mechanics were way off.

For me it is a combination that his hitting mechanics are back in order definitely, and the fact that I think is he is really well. Also his foot was bothering him for a while. I think he is a lot more healthy.

Q. Joe, along with Evan, it seems like this is the time of year that you always see some good production from B.J. Upton. Is there anything you see B.J. do late in the season that he may not do earlier?

Joe Maddon: Well, he has been working on his mechanics. He's getting his foot down sooner, and that's a big part of it. I just think that B.J. loves this part of the season. He showed it to us a couple of years ago. He is never afraid of the moment, I tell you that, I promise.

So right now I just think that he feels good. I think his mechanics are in better shape than they had been and it's just he's that kind of guy that really digs this kind of moment.

Q. Joe, any thoughts on a couple of lineup changes tomorrow with the right hander going?

Joe Maddon: Yeah, we'll do maybe a couple of things. Primarily probably the catching situation, we will probably go with Jaso tomorrow. Other than that, you'll see different guys in different slots if that's what you mean.

Q. Shortstop?

Joe Maddon: I am not sure there yet. It's really a close call between Reid and Sean versus Lewis. I want to look at that a little bit more closely.

Q. Joe, I got a two parter for you. Number one, being here for the third time the last four years, what experience have you gained? What insight do you know now that's different from the 2008 and then last time around, preparing, game management, etc.?

Joe Maddon: Well, I mean, as you do it more often, it's a little bit more comfortable in a sense. But preparation wise we don't do a whole lot different. Honestly we don't. I have talked about that a lot. I like the idea that we actually we do get a lot of info, but I want us to do less.

For me personally, you've seen my card that I work on prior to a game. It is exactly the same one I do during the season. There might be a nugget or two that we are able to unearth a little bit more because we've had more time to dig into it now or maybe we are searching deeper.

For the most part, man, I am not one of those guys -- for as much as I love to prepare, again, I really believe an unencumbered mind is better right now. I would rather the players go out more based on their instincts as opposed to thinking: What am I supposed to be doing here? This guy may throw this pitch on this count or I have to make this pitch to this particular hitter.

I am not really into that very much. We, as staff, can be inundated with information absolutely, but I don't want to do the same thing to the players. I want the players to have a free mind.

So for me personally, I love the stuff that we get. Our guys do a great job. But I really -- and this is something I learned years ago, I thought coming into these more delicate moments, to really, really trust all the work that you've done and permit yourself just to play, not to overthink it.

Q. The second half of that, speaking of your players, for a relatively young ballclub that doesn't have as many maybe Major League at bats or starts as some other ballclubs, they have a lot of playoff experience. Can you talk about them just being able to be here in the spotlight and be unfazed even though their relatively young?

Joe Maddon: You're talking about B.J. right there, B.J., Longo, most of the pitching staff, Matt Joyce has picked up some time, Sean, Koch has had it in the past.

We do have a young relatively inexperienced ballclub. But our guys have played at this time of the year before, and they like it. You can see them in Texas. They like it. Our guys are not moved in a negative way by the moment.

So I have a lot of faith. And also the fact that they are young, I believe we are in pretty good shape physically right now, too.

So with all of that, it's really -- it's a fun time of the year, man. I'm driving in today, it is October, I saw football games on when I woke up and then I come to talk to everybody about a Major League playoff game that we're participating in.

It is the best time of the year. It is the best time of the year, and I really think that our guys get it. I've talked about this before. Mike Scioscia and I used to always kid each other by the batting cage in September when it got a little bit cool, it doesn't smell like football weather, it smells like playoff weather. And we really got that sense coming in today.

And I think our players over the last couple of years have really gotten into that thought process. And so I have no concerns about the fact that we're young and inexperienced.

Even look at Gomes last night. He gave up a homer, but he was fine. McGee hit a batter but I gave him the ball. He's fine. And I can that tell they're fine. Look at what Matt Moore did.

I am proud of this group of guys, and I think, I believe, I know our guys handle this moment well.

Q. Do you think there's any carryover from David from last year's ALDS, being as competitive as he is and the same team you are matching up against?

Joe Maddon: I am sure that David is very driven right now. He is very motivated right now. Again, I don't want him to overprepare for this; I just want a little better game planning possibly.

But David is a different animal, man. This is a guy that when he goes to college he is highly sought after, when he goes to the professional ranks he is highly sought after. He makes his debut here it's under the microscope. He is used to this moment. He likes this moment. But I know he does not like what had happened last year.

So, yeah, I'm certain that David's going to be ready for the challenge, what we were talking about earlier. I have no concerns about him whatsoever. He is a different athletic animal. He's got among the best make ups I have ever been around, and he is one of the most gifted pitchers I have ever been around.

Don't forget, he is about 25. That's the other thing we forget sometimes with some of our guys, too. And even the Rangers, they have some really good young talent also.

But going out there a relatively young, inexperienced player, and you sometimes -- the expectations are great. And he can deal with that. But I know David's truly motivated for this game.

Q. Joe, with Matt Moore, what types of scenarios do you maybe envision for him to get involved in the series again?

Joe Maddon: We will see how it all plays out. He is definitely coming back online to be available for bullpen duty soon. We'll see how the next two games go.

Of course, if it were to have to go back to Texas, then he probably would be available in the bullpen at that point. But for right now you're going to see David, Hellie and then back to James.

And, again, I talked about him as being the wild card earlier. And there was no pun intended originally, but then it actually became that.

So we'll utilize him as we move forward. Again, you saw -- I mean, I'm not afraid to pop him in any given moment. He's got that different heartbeat, also.

But I can't answer that specifically except to say once he is well and ready to pitch again, we'll utilize him as we need to.

Q. I got one. You moved Jennings -- maybe I am missed it. You moved him up to the top of the lineup, you moved him down here and a couple good at bats, and moved him back up to the top of the lineup. Do you think that the month that he had at .160 batting average was due more than to tiredness, because he hasn't played as many games, as more of an all of a sudden lost discipline at the plate, a little bit of both? What do you say about that?

Joe Maddon: Socio, you see so much more than most of us. You are absolutely right. I thought he was a little bit more tired and his mechanics, definitely. If you guys are around me often, I really believe most of the time when performance suffers it's more based on what you're thinking than the physical concern.

But with him, I think he got tired and then his mechanics did start to break down. It's not like his make up his make up is exemplary. He's fantastic. I really saw him changing his swing over the last and not intentionally, he just was.

He is playing a lot of baseball, playing deep into the year. He had not done this before. And he is being counted on at the top of the order to catapult you into the World Series.

So going into that first game, I just thought he was breaking down mechanically. I figured by putting him lower in the batting order, take some pressure and let him and Shelty work on a couple of thoughts and see how it cleaned it up.

And Sean Rodriguez is it not bothered by anything, you can put Sean anywhere you want, he is fine. I thought he looked better after the first game. Better at bats, better takes, and I really gauge a lot of times what a hitter looks like based on how he takes a pitch.

And I thought that he was taking pitches better, also. So with that, I thought after the first game let's put him back on the top. For us to really do all this, I believe that Desmond has to be Desmond and play well and get on base, create the havoc that he can from the leadoff spot. And I move Sean into more of a meaty role, driving in runs, which he is capable of doing.

For all of the reasons, and you are right on, I moved him back down, but I thought after watching that first game, he was ready to move back up.

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